8 cheap & easy tips to boost home energy efficiency
Increasing your energy efficiency can have a positive impact on both the environment and your bank balance. We take a look at a few budget-friendly ways in which you can do your bit for both the planet and your wallet.
What does energy efficiency mean?
You’ll see the term ‘energy efficiency’ everywhere these days, from labels on appliances to property listings. Put simply, energy efficiency involves using less gas or electricity than traditionally to carry out a task such as heating your home or powering your refrigerator.
With the environmental impact of climate change an almost daily constant in the news headlines, more than ever we’re being told that increasing our energy efficiency is key to improving the sustainability of our planet, in addition to cutting gas and electricity bills. However, many energy efficiency home improvements involve a costly initial outlay.
While the savings on your energy bills will usually make up for this in the long run, not everybody can afford to shell out on full home insulation, energy-efficient boilers or smart thermostats. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to improving your home energy efficiency on a budget.
How can we use energy efficiently at home?
In addition to switching to a cheaper energy tariff, one of the easiest ways to save on your gas and electricity bills is by simply reducing your energy wastage.
Follow our cost-effective tips to improve your home energy efficiency and save money, in addition to cutting your carbon footprint.
1. Insulate your home on the cheap
According to experts, 65% of lost home heating escapes through poorly insulated windows, floors and roofs. Although the initial outlay for fully insulating your home won’t come cheap, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve your home energy efficiency is to invest in roof insulation and carpets or rugs for the floors.
As you may remember from school science lessons, hot air rises. As such, it is very important to reduce the large amount of heat that can be lost through the roof. Try to stuff your roof with some decent quality insulation and monitor a trial period to measure your results. This is something you can even do on your own if you feel you’re a dab hand at DIY.
Rugs and carpets
Not only do ceramic, vinyl, stone and hardwood floors feel colder on your feet when walking on them, they also provide much less insulation to your floor than carpets and thick rugs. Purchase a couple of high-quality rugs that you can place in the rooms that you most require to stay warm. You should notice quite the difference, even if you have a hard, solid flooring type.
2. Budget alternatives to double glazing
Roughly 25% of household heat is lost through windows and doors. While it can cost a small fortune to replace rattly old window and door frames, a cheaper alternative is to add secondary glazing, draft-excluding strips and thicker curtains.
Adding a slim-line secondary pane to an existing window is a discreet way to help cut heat loss and keep street noise out. As well as being less expensive than double or triple-glazing, this can be a particularly good option for those who don’t want to affect the aesthetic appearance of windows in an older house.
Adding a simple draught excluder around window frames and doors can also drastically reduce the amount of heat escaping. Door seals, self-adhesive strips and letterbox draught excluders are very affordable energy-efficient options and can be found in most DIY and home improvement stores.
Finally, invest in a good set of thermal curtains. Depending on the thickness, material and colour, a good set of curtains can reduce heat loss and increase your home’s energy efficiency by 25%.
All three of these measures can be installed by yourself without the need to call in a costly professional.
3. Replace ageing appliances with energy-efficient equivalents
When old home appliances, such as dishwashers, fridge-freezers, cookers, washing machines and tumble dryers give up the ghost, try to go for the most energy-efficient replacements you can find.
How do you calculate energy efficiency?
These days, home appliances and white goods come with an energy efficiency certificate or rating label to help you make an informed decision. Energy efficiency is calculated on a scale from A+++ to G, with A+++ being the most efficient. The energy efficiency certificate will also usually include other information, such as annual energy consumption and estimated water usage.
Although the initial cost of appliances with a higher energy efficiency rating may be more expensive, you’ll see a huge drop in your energy consumption and bill costs. This difference could see you recoup your initial investment over just one or two years.
|Appliance||Yearly cost of lower efficiency appliance||Yearly cost of A+ and above appliance|
|Washing machine (x220 usage)||A £28||A+++ £14|
|Tumble dryer (x220 usage)||C £125||A+++ £40|
|Cooker (6x week usage)||A £77||A+ £56|
|Fridge freezer||A+ £46||A+++ £19|
|Dishwasher (1x week usage)||A £7||A+++ £5|
Safe disposal of old appliances
Always be careful when disposing of your old electric appliances, as they may contain hazardous materials that can be harmful to the environment if bundled in with the rest of your household waste or recycling.
When buying new, energy-efficient appliances, the retailer is bound by law to either take your old appliances off you and dispose of them or tell you where you can recycle them for free.
4. Wash clothes and dishes on a full load
If you’re not quite ready to swap out your home appliances yet, waiting that little bit longer until you have a full load for your washing machine or dishwasher can be another way to save both electricity and water.
If you have half a load of clothes that need to be washed, why not leave it another day or two until you have a full load? Washing one large load will use considerably less energy than washing two medium loads. The same goes for washing your pots and pans in the dishwasher. Waiting a little longer until you have a full load can save you considerable amounts with no extra effort.
5. Swap out your old light bulbs
Although it may seem like a minor change, don’t underestimate the difference switching to energy saving light bulbs could make.
Older lighting types such as halogen and incandescent bulbs are gradually being phased out and replaced by energy efficient equivalents such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These modern bulbs can last between 10 and 25 times as long as their old-fashioned equivalent, using far less electricity to produce the same amount of light.
By replacing your traditional bulbs, you could increase your home energy efficiency and trim around £100 a year off your electricity bill!
6. Get a free smart meter
A smart meter allows you to monitor your energy consumption in near real-time on an in-home display (IHD). Therefore, you are able to see where you are using the most energy and make decisions about where and how to cut back when possible.
Most households can get a smart meter installed for free from as part of the national smart meter rollout. To do so, you can either get in touch with your current energy supplier or switch to an exclusive smart meter tariff with another provider.
7. Not in use? Switch it off.
One of the most overlooked energy efficiency measures is switching off and unplugging appliances when we are not using them. For example, switching lights off when nobody is in the room, turning the TV off when nobody is watching it or unplugging your phone or laptop when it is fully charged.
Around 5%-10% of residential electricity bills are made up of those items that are plugged in 24 hours a day. Making a mental note to turn off and unplug things when you aren’t using them will cut your energy consumption and could save you tens, if not hundreds of pounds per year!
8. Make the most of home energy efficiency grants and schemes
For more costly home energy efficiency improvements, you may qualify for financial support through government-backed initiatives such as the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) and the Green Homes Grant.